They learned the art of bullying at the Polytechnic and at university, where there were no rules. They stopped lessons whenever they felt like it, staged occupations, created hangouts that were unchecked, passed lessons with threats. They saw that they could get away with it and continued down this road as members of a small political party.
Bullying brought publicity and revealed that the state is a free-for-all. But they were also faced with a weak and rotten establishment. Half of it was spineless – there’s no other way to describe it. Just like compromised professors and pseudo-rectors who just wanted to be left in peace, politicians, business owners and others started to back down quickly under the pressure of threats and bullying.
Another part of the establishment was rotten, with so many skeletons in its closet it was creaking at the hinges. They quickly fell in line, as indicated by the sudden changes of direction in the media.
This is how the initial gang came to power. I can imagine them sprawled on the couches of Maximos Mansion on that first day wondering how they came to be here.
After triumph and full dominance, they tried to use bullying on the international stage with Yanis Varoufakis. They did not succeed because, unlike in the domestic sphere, there are rules and “red lines.” It took them awhile, but they finally realized it. That lesson was a very expensive one for the entire country.
The prime minister is surely not the Alexis Tsipras of 1991 or 2008, nor even of 2012 and 2015.
However, when he panics, whether as a result of public opinion polls or bad news, he quickly turns to his old gang and their bullying tactics. It’s as though his posse rushes into his office every time things get tough, shouting: “Don’t worry, we’ll show them.” In the blink of an eye enemies are either found or created, the most recent example being the judiciary.
Clearly some believe that with bullying they’ll scare the judges not under their control into line. Maybe they don’t understand, for instance, that the issue with the Council of State went badly for them from the moment they proceeded to attack one of its most solid judges. Nor do they understand that these tactics tend to backfire more often than not.
Most importantly, there is a lack of wisdom and humility that protects against hubris. At some point, they will understand that they are also just temporary residents of Maximos Mansion. After their time lounging on its couches, they will realize it is important to understand that democracy is built so you respect both the privileges it brings but also – and most importantly – its institutions.